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By: Dr. Sushma Shah - Naturopathic Doctor

What Is Health


What is health? A neighbor complains about arthritis, yet feels perfectly healthy otherwise. A friend complains about feeling irritable, depressed and fatigued, but considers this as normal PMS symptoms. A relative is given a clean bill of health, yet he does not feel well at all. Health holds different meanings for different people, and yet it ranks high in importance for everyone.

Health is a kind of freedom. Health allows a person to enjoy a long, full life without the need of drugs for hospitalization. Since everyone is constantly adapting to a changing environment, no one can enjoy optimal health all the time. Better stamina and overall health can be achieved just by living a healthy lifestyle, which supports the body’s ability to restore and maintain its natural vitality and strength. Our body provides us with a natural ability to fend off illness physically, emotionally and mentally.

When we are healthy, we are resistant to disease and recover quickly from injury, illness and emotional trauma. When this natural resistance breaks down, health declines. The weakness shows up as:

- Recurrent infections
- A greater sensitivity to stress
- A noticeable drop in energy
- Insomnia
- Problems with digestion - gas and bloating, leaky gut
- Skin problems - allergic dermatitis, acne, and psoriasis!
- Musculoskeletal issues - low back pain, arthritis
- Will eating junk destroy my immunity?
- Although resistance to disease is highly individual, eating junk food once or twice, or missing a night’s sleep or a few days of physical activity will not cause immunity to decline. Rather it is through years of mistreatment that the body’s natural resistance can collapse leaving the body more susceptible to illness.


A balanced lifestyle is essential to achieving and maintaining overall health.

The body’s resistance rests largely on our individual choices about where to live, what to eat and how to find balance between challenging activity, stress and rest, as well as the cultivation of emotional and spiritual well being. In short, health is achieved when the body, mind and spirit are in balance.

Supporting the body’s natural need to maintain balance makes a remarkable difference in health.


  • FIRST AND FOREMOST – nourishment

  • Physical activity

  • Sleep and relaxation

  • Deep breathing

  • Sunshine, fresh air and clean water

  • Emotional Well-being

  • Basic principles of Natural health Philosophy

  • Detoxification of the body

  • Fasting / Cleansing the body

  • Digestion

  • Stress reduction

  • Immune system support


  • Foods provide calories that are metabolized into energy and offers the nutrients required as cellular building blocks. Foods in its natural unrefined state contain valuable healing qualities

  • Nature has a unique means of providing the correct balance of nutrients in foods

  • The most nourishing foods are those fresh from the garden. The more the food is altered, processed or packaged, the less nourishment it contains

  • Types of foods for the changing seasons


According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, there is a balance of energy (yin and yang) within the body, and a change in seasons can affect this balance to quite an extent.

Yin in the human aspect is feminine, passive, plain, softness, right and even. In the natural aspect - it is predominant in the autumn and winter.

Yang in the human aspect is masculine, active, splendor, hardness, left and odd. In the natural aspect - it is predominant in the spring and summer.

Following the principles of Chinese medicine, one should eat:

- Pungent, sweet warm yet cooling foods and grains such as barley, in spring
- Bland, foods, easily digested foods such as fruits and vegetables in summer.
- Avoid overeating and hot spicy foods.
- Drink plenty of fluids, and eat aromatic and cool foods during Indian summers
- Eat light, cool foods such as sesame, flaxseeds, lubricating foods to promote the production of body fluids in autumn. Avoid pungent foods.
- Eat warm foods, grains and rich foods in the winter. Change of season soup: a Chinese soup ideal for enhancing the immune system during the transition between fall and winter.


  1. Decrease overall fat consumption: Limit intake to 15 -25% of daily caloric intake for optimal physiologic function.
  2. Increase vegetable source proteins and decrease animal source proteins.
  3. Combine legumes with whole grains and nuts and seeds to increase protein value
  4. Restrict refined sugar intake
  5. Increase intake of high fiber foods. Replace refined grains with whole grains
  6. Choose organic
  7. Eat a wide variety of unrefined, whole foods.
  8. Increase your intake of seasonal fruits and vegetables.
  9. Avoid overcooking- make a significant portion of your diet raw foods.
  10. Decrease consumption of salt - add sea vegetables to your diet.
  11. Include naturally fermented foods in your diet such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and miso.


  • Find a form of physical activity that suits you, this is paramount to changing sedentary habits

  • Walk to the corner store instead of driving the car

  • Walking, cycling and hiking, are easy on the under- used stiff muscles and rarely cause strains or injuries which are more common to other types of exercises such as racket ball and jogging. Work towards intense physical exercise to push your physical limits and attain new goals. Physical activity in any form will produce sensations of confidence, fulfillment and achievement


One of the body’s natural means of staying healthy is its ability to detoxify itself. Many harmful substances we absorb, inhale or create are rendered harmless and expelled from the body. The detoxification organs are:

- Lungs
- Liver
- Kidney
- Skin
- Bowels


  • Sufficient fluid intake supports the eliminating function of the kidneys, bowels and skin

  • A healthy circulatory and lymphatic system supports detoxification - sluggishness in these systems leaves behind waste products in the tissues

  • Some of the methods to detoxify and eliminate toxins include:
  • - Saunas
    - Alternating hot and cold baths
    - Skin brushing from the periphery of the body to the center
    - Dry brushing to promote circulation and detoxification


Fasting is a very effective way of detoxification and purification. Fasting has been used for centuries in various religious traditions as a way of cleansing and strengthening the body, mind and spirit. Fasting has improved a wide variety of chronic illnesses, including arthritis, skin problems, skin problems, chronic inflammation, constipation, migraines, gallstones and kidney stones. Although not appropriate for everyone, fasting is an effective way of moving toward a healthier diet and removing attachments to food, drugs, and alcohol.

There are various kinds of fasts available ranging from a few days to a few weeks, ask your naturopathic doctor what would be most suitable for you, as fasting should be done under the supervision of your health care provider. Water and juice fasts are most common, as they are gentle on the system but very effective.

Do remember, before one can start a fast, there is a preparatory period before the fast, to prepare the body for the fast, the preparation methods for different individuals.

What can I take for gentle cleansing?

There are various supplements and cleanses available out there so which one should one pick?

  • Lemon with warm water on waking has helped my patients tremendously with constipation problems among other things. There are a variety of supplements that support the liver in the detoxification of the body, some of which include Vitamin C, choline and methionine for regulating fat metabolism and increasing bile flow

  • Other supplements

  • Dandelion and milk thistle for liver detoxification

  • Fruits and vegetables that support detoxification include:
  • - Broccoli
    - Cabbage
    - Beets
    - Artichoke
    - Onion and garlic
    - Fruits high in Vitamin C such as the citrus family.


  1. Believe in yourself
  2. Follow your heart
  3. Enjoy the company of your loved ones
  4. Practice relaxation and meditation
  5. Exercise at least three times a week
  6. Visit new places
  7. Let bygones be bygones
  8. Live a healthy lifestyle and eat healthy foods
  9. Find a satisfactory workplace

The information on this handout is the property of SUSHMA SHAH N.D., and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any disease. For any questions, or concerns, please contact me at 416 913 4325 (HEAL) or email me at

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